Aspects of the biology of the giant form of Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis (Cephalopoda ommastrephidae) from the Arabian Sea
An investigation was carried out on the recently discovered ‘giant’ extra large (XL) form of the squid Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis from the Arabian Sea. The sample consisted of 2 males, which have not been previously described, and 13 females. Diet composition, parasite loading, sucker ring dentition, biolumi-nescence and sexual dimorphism were examined and compared to known parameters of the medium (M) form. Reproductive strategy, potential fecundity, egg size distribution in the ovary and oviducts were examined in mature XL females. Evidence of multiple spawning in the giant form was also investigated. Overall body shape, bioluminescent structures and coloration of the giant form were similar to the M form, though the XL form had a smaller fin angle than the M form. The mature female XL form has a dorsal mantle length about twice that of a mature female M form. Adult females of the XL form have a dorsal mantle length about twice that of adult males of the same form. Differences between males and females were found in arm sucker ring dentition and parasite load, suggesting a difference in diet. This could be linked to size differences between the sexes. A strong correlation between ovary mass and mantle length was found (r2 = 0.64). Poor correlation was found between mantle length and oviduct mass (r2 = 0.128) and potential fecundity (r2 = 0.07). Potential fecundity ranged between 2–5 million eggs and the holding capacity of the oviducts was approximately 300, 000 eggs. This combined with the presence of spermatangia and the presence of food in the stomach suggest that the XL form is a multiple spawner. S. oualaniensis appears to have a plastic phenotype and has adapted to the Arabian Sea conditions by evolving the capacity to grow to a giant size.